This is how my 25-year-old son Grigory began his tribute to his dad at his Celebration of Life. God’s work was pure perfection in bringing them together as father and son. And both of them knew and appreciated it. They were knit together at their very souls. Always close, their relationship and their love and respect for each other grew stronger and deeper as Grigory matured from a boy into a man. The following is the rest of Grigory’s talk….
My dad was a wonderful man with a quick mind and always a quick, witty response. Throughout the years, he taught me many lessons with those tools.
He also taught me to live out our three family values. The 3 key values in our home are honesty, integrity and kindness. Looking back, the way he raised me using values instead of rules has really been rewarding. I remember my very first day here in America when I met my extended family. We were playing pass with a soccer ball on the front yard. I felt that I wasn’t getting passed to enough. In reality I was being a ball hog. My dad took me inside because of my attitude and there I was taught how I should play fairly with other family members. Instead of a punishment, my dad used this to teach me how to be a better person. After the lesson, I was sent to sit down for a time and reflect on the lesson and my actions. Throughout the years, this is how my dad decided to teach me the many lessons that have molded me.
In this hard time, I’ve come to realize that death is just a part of life….a part of life that isn’t fun or even thought about until your waist deep, as though you are in quick sand that is slowly dragging you down. With no escape or a positive solution to fix the matter at hand, something joyful happens. The long-lost memories of pure happiness that you shared with that loved one emerge. You free yourself from the hustle and bustle and deadlines in life.
While I sat right beside my dad who was once so opinionated and outspoken, I held and saw a man without words, without emotion, without a voice. While he slowly slipped away, I was humbled to remember my first school adventure. At first, school to me was another orphanage with a ton of kids and some adults. I thought I was being left at another orphanage. I said the nastiest things to my parents in my Russian language. For days, weeks, months my dad sat in the school room in a tiny chair meant for a kindergartener. At the same time that he was showing me that he wasn’t going anywhere, he was building trust. So, it was very humbling to have that past memory while I sat beside my dad as he once sat beside me.
Some other great memories came to mind, ones which involved him building my work ethic. Through the years I was blessed to learn how to landscape, build decks, screened in porches, rooms, do roof repair. My pride and joy was building the tree house at my childhood home that we all loved, the Holt Road house.
When dad needed or wanted me to work with him, he would say, “Hey son, I need your help to do a project. Would you lend me a hand? Then it won’t take long.” He actually did 2 things there. He taught me a great work ethic and that the best way to get a person to help you. People are always more inclined to help when asked rather than ordered to work. He made work fun.
When I was growing up, my dad didn’t have a job. He became my rock and foundation throughout the years, making and sharing wonderful memories. I was the luckiest little boy to always have his dad around. But, as I I’m here now, I see that the Lord gave me the time with him early on because I wouldn’t have it later. It saddens me deeply to know my dad won’t see me graduate, or see my lovely wife, or his grandchildren or all the great memories from here on out.
But I’m humbled to know that he saw a little Russian boy who didn’t have his own adoption video but showed up in everyone else’s. For some reason, I touched his heart from around the world. All I knew was that my friends at the orphanage had videos made of them and then these weird people came to take them. So I keep popping my head into everyone’s videos. I’m grateful to know he spent his time to grow a curious Russian boy without any skills into a skillful, value taught, passionate man.
So I thank my dad for giving me the Butters name. I thank him for all the people he touched. His shadow in the world went far and wide. I can’t fill his shadow but I will do my best to broaden the Butters legacy.